Obesity has reached epidemic proportions in the developed world. Obesity isn’t just about aesthetics; it’s a serious, chronic disease that can lead to a wide range of illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, stroke, osteoarthritis and high blood pressure.
In order for them to last, weight-loss regimes can’t be considered a short-term fix to a chronic problem – it just doesn’t work. Obesity has a very high relapse rate, not least because changing ingrained unhealthy habits can be very difficult. Knowing how to eat and exercise when you’re already obese can be an arduous journey, and often one fraught with conflicting and confusing, although often well-meaning, advice.
Losing weight and keeping it off has to be a lifelong commitment to all-around better health. Read on for simple, direct and straightforward advice on how to begin and sustain a healthy and responsible weight loss routine which, if maintained, could lead to life-changing improvements in your health and happiness.
Take it Slow and Steady
If you’re obese and want to lose weight and keep it off, your weight-loss regime ought to be driven towards gradual, steady improvements. With a realistic weight-loss goal set for every week and month, you’re much less likely to feel disheartened and give up if the weight doesn’t begin to fall off as easily as you’d expected.
If you’re really serious about losing weight, it’s important to recognize that seeing immediate results is unlikely, as you’re undertaking a mission to overhaul the habits of a lifetime. Rapid weight loss schemes can also put a strain on your internal organs, so consult a medical professional before embarking upon drastic procedures.
Consult with Your Doctor, Physician or Dietician Every Step of the Way
If you plan to lose a significant amount of weight, have current health problems or regularly take medication, it’s important to be thoroughly evaluated by your doctor before you set out on your weight loss regime. A healthy diet should be limited in calories, but not in essential foodstuffs, and certain diets may help you to shed pounds but leave you with even more serious health conditions further down the line, so be sure to discuss the details of the program you plan to undertake with a medical expert. Talk to a physician for advice on how to construct a program you’ll be able to sustain, and establish a suitable weight loss goal, time frame and exercise regime.
Create Alternatives to Eating
We often find ourselves eating for a huge number of reasons other than hunger. We eat out of boredom, sadness and celebration, and plenty more reasons besides. One key way to cut down your calorie intake is, simply, to eat only when you’re genuinely hungry. Before you eat, ask yourself if you’re eating for an emotional reason, or if you’re perhaps mistaking thirst for hunger. Moreover, have a stock of things you can do when you’re faced with the decision of eating when you’re not hungry.
For example, you might want to do something that’s incompatible with eating – try playing a sport or a musical instrument, or even taking a shower. Try something that’ll engage your brain and take your mind off eating, like reading a book or painting. Otherwise, strengthen your self-control and give your confidence a boost by simply waiting out a craving until it has passed.
Drink More Water
The recommended daily water intake for adults is around eight glasses of water per day. Staying hydrated is vital for physical and mental activity, and H2O will do everything from stopping you feeling sluggish to helping you feel fuller for longer. So, find a type of water that you want to, and will, drink, whether it’s straight from the tap, filtered or mineral. Next, have a cup or water bottle at hand that you can get into a routine of using regularly – and you may want a separate one for your office, too. If you like warm, chilled or iced water best, make sure you have the apparatus (such as a kettle, fridge or freezer) nearby to make water as appealing as possible. Make drinking water a habit – first thing in the morning, with every meal and snack, and every time you think you’re hungry.
Get Enough Sleep
This can be a real challenge for people with hectic lifestyles, but it shouldn’t be overlooked as a vital means of aiding weight loss and improving your well-being in general. Sleep deprivation has been linked to stress, heart disease, poor concentration levels and weight gain. To improve your sleeping pattern and reap the benefits of feeling more alert, refreshed and active, cut out caffeine late in the day, exercise daily, avoid heavy, stodgy meals before you sleep, have a relaxing bath before sleeping rather than staring at a screen, and regulate your sleeping schedule.
Make Healthier Food Choices
Firstly, change your portion sizes to regulate your calorie intake. Initially, you don’t necessarily need to switch straight from your current diet to a total new one; just change the quantities of food you consume each meal. Over time, your stomach will get used to less food, and will feel full faster. You can even trick your brain into thinking you’re eating more by using smaller bowls, plates and cutlery. As you try to phase saturated fats, salt and processed foods out of your diet, stave off cravings by boosting your intake of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean protein-rich foods such as chicken and fish.
Move Daily, and Start From Scratch
Starting an exercise regime with very poor fitness can be intimidating, but you have to start from where you are, and even if this is just walking down your garden path at first it could mark the beginning of something life-changing. Every day, try to take a few steps further, or faster, or steeper. If you’re already confident about walking, try to go on a longer hike, or do some light jogging. If you can run for a mile, try running two, or attempt a more challenging gradient. Try to get exercise every day, and get the habit of being active firmly cemented into your routine. Take the stairs instead of the lift, park on the opposite side of the car park, walk the dog twice a day, do some gardening, clean the house, and do whatever else you can to get active and stay active.